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Kenyan violence escalates

Margaret Sheridan | Interrobang | Opinion | February 11th, 2008



Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
Between the USA election coverage and the release of the Manley Report the majority of Canadian media attention has been focused right here on North American politics.

Meanwhile recent events in Kenya have escalated to the point where experts around the world are warning that anything but immediate intervention may well lead to a repeat of the Rwandan genocide.

The violence in the East African nation has been escalating since the December Presidential election when the elected President, incumbent Mwai Kibaki, was accused by the opposition of rigging the votes. The accusations swelled to the point where the Kalenjin and the Kikuyu populations became pitted against each other, which lead to rioting, and eventually, murder.

The Red Cross recently estimated that over 1,000 Kenyans have been killed since the rioting began. But it wasn't until the death toll reached that marker that the international community sat up and took notice. The pictures painted by foreign correspondents became reminiscent of the Rwandan genocide in the mid-nineties. Writers have penned stories about ‘machete-wielding youths' and people being ‘burned alive in their own houses,' while the total death toll continues to rise on a daily basis and an estimated 300,000 Kenyans have fled from the danger zones.

The numbers, at this stage at least, pale in comparison to the 800,000 killed during the Rwandan genocide, but with the African politicians unwilling to take a stance and the international community unsure of what their role in such a dispute could amount to, it may only be a matter of time before we find that it's become too late to help.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, Maxime Bernier, has called for a stop to the violence and recognition of the human rights laws until a solution can be found for the political unrest.

A useless dialogue especially from a country that must so clearly remember that words alone cannot halt a mass genocide.

The most poignant words I've seen come out of the situation to date belong to one of Kenya's leading journalists who, when speaking about the increased appeals for a political plan in the struggling nation said, he saw reason for optimism: “This is our seminal moment, many great nations were born in violence.”

But when does the cost supercede the gain?

And when will Canada and the UN stop standing on the sidelines hoping that their hollered calls for peace will be heard?
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